FDNY training an eye-opener for Mets
Dickey, Pelfrey, Parnell, Gee spend day at Randalls Island
NEW YORK -- R.A. Dickey stood on the roof of a five-story building Thursday morning, laughed nervously for a moment, then turned to Mike Pelfrey.
"I'm scared," Dickey said in a voice not much more than a whisper.
Then he climbed over the edge.
Strapped into a harness and tethered to a rope with a group of New York City firefighters at the other end, Dickey managed to survive the fall. But he, Pelfrey, Bobby Parnell and Dillon Gee did come away with a new set of experiences, participating in a series of drills Thursday at the FDNY's Training Academy on Randalls Island.
"I got as nervous as I do pitching when I was on top of that building," Dickey said. "You have no idea about the training they have to undergo and the training they have to go through to do their jobs. It really put things in perspective."
Along with Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon, the four Mets players participated in a series of drills including forcibly entering a burning room, extinguishing a room fire and a car fire, climbing an aerial ladder, being rescued from a window and, of course, dropping feetfirst off a five-story building. For Gee and Parnell, the experiences were not entirely novel -- their fathers are firefighters for the Fort Worth (Texas) Fire Department and the Salisbury (N.C.) Fire Department, respectively. But for Pelfrey, Dickey and Wilpon, the day was a lesson.
"It was tough," Pelfrey said. "It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience -- pretty awesome. It makes you appreciate the things that they do even more."
Largely through Wilpon's efforts, the Mets have been closely involved with the FDNY since Sept. 11, 2001, as part of their overall commitment to public service. Thursday gave them a firsthand look at what their work is supporting, prompting Wilpon to call it a "really eye-opening" morning.
Nearly all of the Fire Department's "dirty training" takes place at its 27-acre Randalls Island facility, which includes a building equipped with oil-based smoke generators, a street lined with model storefronts, and a burned-out car that can set itself on fire. On hand Thursday was FDNY commissioner Sal Cassano, who greeted the Mets and watched them take part in the drills.
"Today is just the continuation of a great partnership we've had for many years," Cassano said. "It started with Sept. 11 and now it's solidified more than ever. We're really happy with these men who represent what's good about baseball, what's good about sports."
And the Mets were pleased as well. After completing his training and changing out of his protective suit and boots, Wilpon approached a still wide-eyed Dickey to thank him for participating in the event.
Dickey seemed genuinely surprised.
"You don't have to thank me," he said.
More charity: Mets general manager Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins will be honored at that Police Athletic League's 18th annual Sports Nite Dinner on January 27. The PAL services over 47,000 children in the five boroughs, and 1,000 sports teams. For tickets, contact Anne Lawrence at 212.477.9450, ext. 310.